A humor writer who is uncomfortable smiling? Well . . . kind of. It’s not that I don’t smile very often. It’s just that when a camera is nearby, I can sometimes stiffen up, zone out and look super sleepy, scared to death or in physical pain.
So when I needed a new headshot for some book publicity last week, I turned to a friend who’s a gifted photographer: Margo LaPanta (www.lapanta.com). Despite my full confidence that she could coax a reasonably natural smile out of me, I invited Kelly along to make sure I’d be laughing.
With Margo’s steady presence behind the lens and a refreshing bottle of Stella Artois to loosen me up, I was ready to go. Let the photo shoot begin.
Goofy faces behind Margo? Check. Inappropriate mock flashing? Double check. Laughter? Not really. It wasn’t until Kelly started to read passages of my book, taken very much out of context, that I really started laughing. And protesting.
Kelly: “Welcome to our cabin! We spend 95 percent of our waking moments performing backbreaking repairs and maintenance up here.”
Me: “Hey Margo, you know Kelly and I don’t have a cabin. And I’m not ripping you if you do. Sorry!”
Kelly: “Am I secure with my sexuality?”
Me: “Um, there’s a bit more to that paragraph than that!”
Kelly: “My neighbor’s wife was a cinder of passion in the snowbank.”
Me: “Don’t listen to her Margo. I wrote that when I was in high school. Some stupid metaphor assignment.”
The moral to this story? With the right photographer, people can appear much more photogenic than the original material. Likewise, with the right comic, words taken out of context can produce bigger laughs than the original material.
Fortunately, I had them both. Margo and my amusing muse.